Event planning takes time. Part of this time involvement includes deciding on the best time to host an event.

It’s important to get the timing right. Whether you decide on a time during the morning, afternoon, or evening, do your research first.

This means asking questions like: Should you schedule that movie event in the afternoon or evening? Is lunch or dinner a better time for a small business event? These are all considerations that will depend on the type of event and the audience.

While choosing the best date for an event is important, the time of day an event is held can also make or break it come event day. Poor timing can result in low attendance, which can make for a lackluster event.

Avoid bad timing with these tips!

Deciding on the Best Time for Events

After Work

Events during the week are often confined to after work hours to ensure attendees are able to make it.

Timing an event right after work during the week is a perfect way to catch attendees who may not live in the area, but commute to the location for work. If attendees likely live in the area, timing closer to work hours is less of an issue.

Hosting an event during work hours means it will be unavailable to a large amount of people (depending on the event type). Also, an event scheduled too long after work can result in lower turnout, as people are likely to commute back home instead of waiting around for the event to begin.

…But Not too Late

Make sure you don’t schedule an event too late in the evening. People will want to get home at a half-decent time, especially if they are driving back home.

As a rule of thumb, the best time for evening events is around 7 PM. This time is good because it means people will leave around 9 PM or so, depending on the event. An event that goes too late can mean tired attendees who are less likely to engage with the event and more likely to fall asleep or leave early. Avoid this by scheduling events early enough in the evening.

Food Considerations

When scheduling an event time, consider whether you will offer food and what type of food you will offer. Appetizers and munchies are good for events between major meal times.

If you’re not looking to serve a full meal, or can’t afford catering, don’t schedule the event during dinner. Schedule it before or after dinner (such as 4 or 7 PM). There is an assumption that events during dinner will include dinner. People will show up to the event expecting food, and might leave when they don’t find any, or leave bad reviews.

If the event is a cooking class, hold it during dinner time. This way people will be hungry to taste what they create. Will you be serving alcohol? If so, don’t hold your event in the morning or during the day when people may have to go back to work. For example, it’s best to hold wine and painting events in the evening, so people can unwind without having to worry about going back to work.

Consider Venue & Speakers

Is the event venue only available at certain times? If so, this may narrow available times. A venue may only be available after or during working hours. For example, if an event is being held at a bar, this space is likely only available after about 4 PM or so.

Make sure to talk with the location manager first before deciding on a time. This can help avoid the unfortunate situation of publicizing an event and having to change the time last minute.

In addition, if your event relies on speakers, discuss what times work for them. Don’t leave speakers with one time, as it may not fit with their schedules. Be kind and give speakers options.

Always, always check with the event venue and speakers before publicizing an event.

Research Similar Events

Unless your event is a completely original, one-of-a-kind experience, you’re likely to find similar events in your area and beyond.

Looking at other events can spark ideas for what times work for certain types of events. Also, if one event time dominates in your industry locally, consider offering a different time to reach those who may have scheduling conflicts with the common time.

Ask Around

Knowing your audience is important for many aspects of event planning, especially timing. What works best for one event audience may not work best for another.

Get to know your audience and what they want. Ask potential attendees who subscribe to your email list or Facebook page what times they prefer. This can give audience-specific insight about the best time for your event.

For example, business professionals in a city may prefer a small business event during lunch rather than dinner, when they want to spend time with family. It doesn’t hurt to ask around.

If you’re holding the event in a public location, ask the location manager when they see the biggest turnout. This will give you some ideas to start with.

Testing different event times is also beneficial. By offering events at different times, you can use analytics and reporting to determine which time produced the best results.

Putting some thought into the timing of your events will maximize attendees and create events people can’t wait to attend. Once you figure out the best time to hold your event, you’ll be better able to market your event to potential attendees. Good luck!